Italy politicians react strongly to Fiat CEO Marchionne’s comments

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 27, 2010

Senior politicians in Italy criticized statements made by Fiat S.p.A. CEO Sergio Marchionne that put the focus on the government’s inefficiencies that he claims to have been hampering the carmaker's Italian plants. Disputes sprouted in Italy after Marchionne stated on prime time television last Sunday that Fiat’s performance would have been better it could exclude Italy from its results.

Marchionne, who has been the head of Italy's biggest industrial group since 2004, had stated that all of its five Italian car factories could not match the productivity of Fiat's single Polish plant.

Lower House speaker Gianfranco Fini, who leads a group of center-right deputies that has broken away from the ruling People of Freedom party, told Italian media that Marchionne is “more Canadian than Italian” and that his comments would be “normal on the mouth of a foreign top manager.”

Fini said that Fiat has become a giant because “for a very long time Italian taxpayers have prevented Fiat's collapse."

Antonio di Pietro, who heads the opposition Italy of Values party, was quoted to have described Marchionne's comments to be "offensive and unworthy given that Fiat has always been the beneficiary of government money.”

Marchionne has promised to invest 20 billion euros ($28.07 billion) in Italy if Fiat gets more labor flexibility at Italian plants. But then, Fiat encountered some difficulty with the key workers' union Fiom. [via autonews - sub. required]

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